|Business Entrepreneur: Shai brings extensive Israeli and American business experience. Shai began his business career in the foreign currency department of Bank Hapoalim in 1979. In 1981, he and his wife, Judy Birnbrey Robkin, opened Israel’s very first combination bookstore/coffee shop, Sefer ve-Sefel (Book and Cup), in downtown Jerusalem (it continues to operate today under new ownership).Shai and Judy returned to Atlanta in 1984 to care for ailing parents, taking the proceeds from the sale of their Israeli business to purchase a small library supplies company from its retiring owner. Vernon Library Supplies, Inc. grew, focusing on the manufacture and sale of general library supply products and development of library technology applications including security, inventory, self-checkout and materials handling systems utilizing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. In 2004, Vernon established a separate division, Integrated Technology Group (ITG), devoted exclusively to library technology. In April 2011, Shai sold ITG to One Equity Partners, the merchant banking arm of JP Morgan Chase. ITG was rolled up with British and Swiss companies to form Bibliotheca, a global library technology company. For the past two years, Shai served as a Managing Director and then consultant to Bibliotheca. He continues to own and oversee Vernon, relying on an experienced and loyal management team.
Community Engagement. In Israel and Atlanta, Shai was and is an active community volunteer. While living in Israel, he was a founding member and president for two years of Moreshet Avraham, a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Jerusalem. He served as commissioner of the Israel Softball League and was instrumental in getting softball included as a recognized sport in the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics held every four years in Israel. Shai and Judy remain members of their Jerusalem synagogue and are also members of two Atlanta synagogues – Congregations Beth Shalom (Conservative) and Beth Tefillah (Orthodox). Shai served on the board of Beth Shalom and is an active member of the ritual committee. His companies have been long time members of the Conexx and Shai has served on the Conexx board. Shai recently joined the national executive board of the Friends of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The Arava Institute is located on Kibbutz Keturah, home base of Arava Power, Israel’s largest photovoltaic solar energy company, in which Shai and Judy are investors. He has served on the boards of both the Greenfield Hebrew Academy and The Weber School, which honored Shai and Judy at their annual dinner in 2007.
Atlanta Connections: Shai is deeply rooted in Atlanta. Both he and Judy were born and raised in Atlanta as were both of Shai’s parents. Judy’s father, Henry Birnbrey, has been a pillar of the Atlanta Jewish community for over half a century. Her sister, Anita Stein, and two brothers, Eddie and David Birnbrey, all live in Atlanta and are active members of the Jewish community.
Israel Connections: Shai served in the standing army of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in 1978-79 and continued to serve as a reservist until his return to Atlanta in 1984. He is a fluent speaker and writer of Hebrew. Shai and Judy own an apartment in Jerusalem and visit there yearly, maintaining close relationships with many Israeli friends and family. In 1990, Shai formed a musical ensemble called PAZ (Gold in Hebrew) which continues to this day to perform popular Israeli music for community organizations in Atlanta and throughout the South. His passion for Israeli music led to him to become host in 2006-7 of Boker Tov Atlanta (Good Morning Atlanta), a Sunday morning Jewish radio show on AM1160.
Education. Shai earned his BA degree in Economics with a focus on international trade from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He earned an MBA from Georgia State University with an emphasis in marketing.